Image: Brendan O'Toole
Trulaske Class of 2000 and Crosby MBA Class of 2002

Brendan O'Toole

"Mizzou is special for so many reasons, not the least of which is the people who work tirelessly to build the sense of community that still resides within me today."

Current Role/Title: Please explain a little bit about what this entails.

I am VP of Product for Copeland's smart home solutions, including the award-winning Sensi Smart Thermostat. I lead hardware and software product teams with a vision to create connected HVAC solutions that improve health and comfort while ensuring a sustainable energy future.

What is something fascinating happening in your industry right now?

The biggest trend impacting our industry is increased consumer focus on sustainability. Smart thermostats play a crucial role in promoting sustainability by significantly reducing energy consumption and minimizing environmental impact. It is extremely fulfilling to develop products that can help contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for our planet.

How did you end up in your current position?

After working in a variety of cross-functional areas at Anheuser-Busch InBev, including Finance, Sales, and Marketing, I joined the Innovation team. I was fortunate to learn product development from some amazingly talented people, and the exciting work in product innovation confirmed the next pathway of my career journey. For me, immense rewards lie in developing a deep understanding of our customers, gleaning insights into their needs, and ultimately translating those insights into a solution. It is a magical moment when people, technology, and business converge and a successful product is born.

With ten years in the consumer packaged goods space, I decided to make a pivot to work in tech. This led me to a smart home product strategy role at Emerson (and now Copeland). I have found that this world has been a perfect fit for my interests and skill set.

In what ways has your Mizzou education/affiliation impacted your life since graduation?

I had an amazing experience at Mizzou and I continue to stay connected to life on campus by serving on the Marketing Advisory Board, speaking as an occasional guest lecturer, and of course, attending and watching Mizzou sporting events.  Go Tigers! My wife is also a graduate of Mizzou, and we both loved our college experience so much that we returned to get married there after graduation, with the ceremony at A.P. Green Chapel and the reception at Reynolds Alumni Center on campus. My formative years at Mizzou made a positive and notable impact on me. I am grateful for my time there and continue to find great reward in supporting the school and its mission in whatever ways that I can.

Why did you choose Mizzou—what makes Mizzou special? Why should someone consider Mizzou?

It is hard to pinpoint one specific reason why I chose Mizzou, but after visiting numerous colleges, Mizzou just felt like home, even upon my initial visit. Mizzou is special for so many reasons, not the least of which is the people who work tirelessly to build the sense of community that still resides within me today. Culture is key to having an impactful college experience, and it’s the many facets of Mizzou’s culture that make it appealing and enduring. Visits back to campus never disappoint and bring a sense of excitement, joy, and nostalgia.

Fondest memories while a student or faculty member here?

I completed a summer semester in Italy during graduate school and I always make this recommendation to students: study abroad. It provides a transformative opportunity for growth and development that will stay with you for the rest of your life. 

In your spare time, what do you like to do?

Outside of work, I enjoy staying active, particularly via tennis, rowing, and cycling. I serve on the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Area Food Bank, an organization committed to building a stronger community by empowering people with food and hope. Travel and exploration are hobbies of mine when I have longer blocks of time, and after spending a summer in Italy, I humbly attempt to perfect the craft of Neapolitan pizzas at home.